VALENTINE’S JAZZ NIGHT – YOUNGMAN’S AIRWAVES
Our Trip To Taormina, Sicily Taormina is the playground of the Italian wealthy. An ancient town carved from the side of a mountain. Views that are breathtaking looking down to the sea or up into the mountains it’s all very pleasing. At any given time of the year the town is full of tourists.
The weather in the winter is moderate,typical of the southern Mediterranean with temperatures in the range of 10C to 18C and even warmer when the sun decides to come out from hiding. From our home base in Reggio Calabria it is easy to get to Taormina, a short ferry ride to Messina one of the major port of Sicily and then bus to Taormina. The people only ferry, a hovercraft run by Ustica lines, departs directly from Reggio and arrives at the port of Messina about 20 minutes later. The price for the boat ride, one way, $3.50 euro each person. The bus terminal is a short walk from the port, Piazza Republica, just to the left of the port when looking towards the city. The bus route takes you through the city of Messina and along the scenic coastal road stopping in numerous towns along the way. For about $4.80 euros, a one hour and forty minute drive, this is the way to travel. Last time we visited Taormina we had gotten off of our cruise ship and hired a private car for one hundred euros. We arrived at the bus terminal in Taormina and hired a taxi to take us to our hotel, we were aware that the hotel was about 30 minute walk from the bus terminal. Without knowing exactly where the hotel was and not wanting to waste time, I thought a taxi would be best. I did get a firm price though before we began, 10 euros. I knew that our return to the terminal would be on foot so I figured I was saving money, somewhat twisted logic but I was tired and hungry. Our hotel for our four night stay, the Hotel Continental was a very good 3 star hotel, it was actually one of the only large hotels I could get as this was Valentines Weekend and I believe lots of folks were making a romantic
weekend of it.
Once checked in and freshened up we ventured out to find our evening reservation such that we could be relaxed when the time came to actually depart for the Hotel Excelsior Palace. I had timed our trip to Taormina to coincide with a jazz concert and valentines dinner. I had made the reservations a week ahead of time which is a good thing as it was sold out and only side view seating was available. No problem as long as I can hear the music I am good to go. As Google Maps indicated the Excelsior Palace was indeed 4 minutes away by foot. Of course I went the wrong way on our reconnoitring visit but got sorted out after not finding it at first try, however we did find a great pizza place. We had lunch of pizza and beer and ventured of in the opposite
direction, sure enough a few steps away from our hotel we found the biggest hotel in Taormina the 5 star Excelsior Palace. At the appointed hour we ventured off to the Valentines Dinner at Excelsior Palace. Valentine’s Jazz Night with Giovanni Mazzarino & Daniela Spalletta Quartet. Giovanni Mazzarino, piano – Daniela Spalleta, Voce – Alberto Fidone, Bass – Giuseppe Tringali, Drums.
The show got under way first some instrumental compositions from the trio to warm the room up and then the vocalist Daniela Spalletta joined the group. The singer reminded me of Norma instone a great English jazz singer who accompanies Kenny Wheeler on many dates. I found Daniela’s phrasing and cadence similar, perhaps an influence of hers. The group would run through some original tunes, some Latin jazz and some standards. A wonderful concert led by pianist and composer Giovanni Mazzarino, an adept pianist with a refined touch. After the concert we were guided to another large ballroom where dinner was served. A candlelight feast with a four course dinner, white and red wine, a great ambiance, music in the background, the band enjoying dinner next to our table.
What a great start to our Taormina adventure.